The Villanova Wildcats went to "The Dunk" for revenge against the Providence Friars and got exactly what they wanted, defeating the Friars 72-60. Villanova looked a lot more prepared and sharp in their defensive rotations from the opening tip, and were able to a hit many of their open looks early. They were also able to keep the Friars off the offensive glass, which was a major problem in the first game this season.
Although the Wildcats are currently locked in as a top-3 ranked team in the country, the victory over the #11 Friars certainly looks like the signature win that they were lacking before and could prove huge as we move through February and into March
Villanova was really firing on all cylinders from the beginning. In their third game without starting center Daniel Ochefu, the team really showed signs early that they are getting used to him not being on the court. Darryl Reynolds was spectacular early in the game, really filling the role that Ochefu plays for the 'Cats on the backboard and protecting the paint. However, he also was able to contribute some unexpected scoring that really aided the Wildcats'' cause early.
For the first half alone, he was able to contribute 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. The Wildcats did a very good job of slowing down Providence stars Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil in the first half, as the two combined for only 8 points on 4-14 shooting. This really helped take the crowd out of the game for much of the first half, and Villanova went to the locker room with a lead of 31-19.
The second half saw the margin of victory really shrink for the Wildcats, as both Dunn and Bentil were able to get themselves going. The ankle injury that appeared to plague Bentil in the first half was a non-factor in the second half, and Kris Dunn helped calm the Friars down to prevent turnovers.
On the other hand, the Wildcats were a bit sloppier with the ball in the second half, turning it over rather frequently and giving the Friars some easy points, especially early on. Providence was able to pull within 5 points with just over 2 minutes left in the game, but timely baskets and stops for the Wildcats allowed them to hold on.
Villanova actually had 3 different players record a double-double in the game.
Darryl Reynolds had a career game, continuing his success from the first half and ultimately finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds on 9-10 shooting. Josh Hart was a major factor as well, particularly with timely baskets and stops when it felt like the Providence surge may overtake the Wildcats. He continues look like not just a first-team all-Big East performer, but potentially the Big East player of the Year. He finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Gus Johnson may very well be correct in deeming him "the best rebounding guard in the country". Kris Jenkins was the third Wildcat to have a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.